It now feels like the subject of a fabled myth, but there was once a time Liverpool splashed out £10million on Senegalese badboy El Hadji Diouf.
The forward’s impressive performances at the 2002 World Cup had helped knocked out France and pushed Les Lions de la Teranga to a quarter-final – subsequently, then-Reds boss Gerard Houlier saw a star in the making.
But little did the Anfield side know that they had just thrown a double-figure sum at one of the most menacing and detestable players the Premier League has ever seen. Seven clubs, countless spitting incidents and allegations of racism, twelve years and only 37 league goals later, Diouf is now a free agent after being released by Leeds United.
Essentially, the 33 year-old made an entire career out of a splatter (or should that be spatter) of decent showings at a major international tournament. Hardly the first player to do so, and undoubtedly not the last.
So with that in mind, this article takes a look at the FIVE ‘El Hadji Dioufs of Brazil 2014’ that Arsenal must avoid at all costs.
To give credit where it’s due, you can’t ask for much more from a striker in his debut World Cup than a return of three goals in three appearances, as is the case with Enner Valencia.
The Ecuador international claimed a brace against Honduras, accordingly earning the Man of the Match award, including this well-placed header…
Furthermore, the 24 year-old’s record of 18 goals in 23 league appearances since joining current club Pachuca in January speaks for itself. Here’s a short clip of the 5 foot 9 forward in action:
Valencia has already stated his ambitions to move to the European scene after Brazil 2014…
Valencia looking to Europe: Ecuador forward Enner Valencia hopes his showings at the World Cup finals will earn… http://t.co/hCV32qyNS0
— Football-News (@Bot_Football) July 4, 2014
And amid their need for a potent goal-scorer, the Gunners, along with Newcastle, Everton and West Ham, have been linked online…
Julio Maldonado: “Very important interest from Arsenal for Enner Valencia, Wenger is crazy with him”. He has 3 goals in 2 matches this WC.
— Spanish Gooner (@ElSpanishGooner) June 25, 2014
But having never plied his trade in Europe before, moving from the Mexican top flight to the Premier League is an enormous step, and with so many English clubs interested, Valencia won’t come with a bargain-bucket price-tag.
Even his £10million valuation could prove to be a huge waste of money in just a couple of months’ time.
Admittedly, Granit Xhaka is an exciting young talent that has often been discussed in regards to Premier League clubs before.
The Switzerland international comes with a strong reputation from his FC Basel days, where he won back-to-back league titles and was dubbed ‘the young Schweinsteiger’.
And this goal against France will have further boosted the 21 year-old’s stock…
But for a player considered to be first and foremost an attacking midfielder or at least a box-to-box – Ottmar Hitzfeld has continually used him as a No.10 at the World Cup – the Borussia Monchengladbach starlet lacks output.
Xhaka produced no goals and one assist all season in the Bundesliga, and his attacking statistics are hardly impressive…
And currently rated at a near-ridiculous £10million by Transfermarkt.com, there are certainly better, less risky deals to be had this summer.
Guillermo Ocha has been in unbelievable form for Mexico at the World Cup, producing a number of top-class saves, as seen below:
And he produced an equally talismanic performance against PSG earlier this season…
Furthermore, with his contract at Ajaccio having ended, the 28 year-old has been mooted as a potential back-up acquisition for the Gunners…
Mexico goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa has been linked with moves to Barcelona, Arsenal & Liverpool http://t.co/UTU5zJfbHc
— Mike Jacobs (@mjpurpleaces) June 20, 2014
But the spaghetti-haired Central American certainly has a few shades of Heurelho Gomes about him, making simple saves look heroic while seemingly only being seconds away from a complete goal-line meltdown.
Having thus far plied his club trade at the less flattering end of the French table, it remains to be seen whether Ochoa is up to Premier League standard.
Attacking midfielder Yacine Brahimi has been linked with a Premier League switch before, and following his impressive showings for Algeria at the World Cup, it’s unsurprising that a number of top clubs are sniffing around him once again…
— Hotspur Related (@HotspurRelated) June 27, 2014
The 24 year-old claimed one goal and one assist in three outings for Algeria at Brazil 2014, including this strike against South Korea…
Brahimi is a sensational dribbler too, as shown below…
But he lacks output – just three goals and four assists in 35 league outings for Granada last season isn’t enough to warrant a major Premier League move.
The Gunners should leave the Algerian to local rivals Tottenham – because he has all the makings of a prime World Cup dud.
Perhaps branding Mathieu Debuchy as an El Hadji Diouf incarnate is a tad unjustified, considering the Newcastle defender has more than proved he’s up to Premier League standard over the last 18 months.
Furthermore, the Magpies full-back caught attention from PSG and Bayern Munich to name a few during the latter half of last season…
— Goal UK (@GoalUK) June 27, 2014
Impressive showings for France at the World Cup, as shown below, will further impress the 28 year-old’s suitors…
But in my opinion, Debuchy is a flawed defender. His performance levels on Tyneside have been inconsistent to say the least and a lack of concentration, especially in regards to holding the line, has cost Alan Pardew’s side dearly on multiple occasions. These Twitter enthusiasts share my concern…
Arsenal can take Debuchy he can be the biggest liability at times and had a handful of good games last year the rest were average or poor
— VSVP COOKIE (@SablenoirCookie) July 3, 2014
Thing with Debuchy is that we can ignore poor defensive positioning, but it could always hurt you at any moment..
— Dezil Dez (@DezilDez) July 2, 2014
We’ve actually managed to find a guy who is as bad defensively as Jenkinson. Debuchy would be a poor signing. Really poor
— Andrew (@Hesfivefootfour) June 30, 2014
The France international is no replacement for Bacary Sagna, and rated as highly as £12million by some, Arsenal would be far better off investing in younger talent.